Victims of abuse, people exposed to violent situations repeatedly, and people in war zones can develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result. PTSD is very common and has lifelong effects on affected individuals.

  1. Can people exposed to trauma be treated before PTSD develops?

  2. Would this treatment totally prevent PTSD from developing?


1 Answer 1


Beta blockers (β1-Blockers) lower norepinephrine release (Berg, 2014), however it seems that the jury is still out on whether there is an effective and ethical way to prevent Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Donovan (2010) states that there isn't enough strong evidence on its efficacy. Another point it makes (on page 11) is that...

Using any beta-blocker prior to combat to prevent PTSD in military personnel should not be considered, as it would likely be more detrimental than beneficial. First, the beta-adrenergic signaling system is mediated by the catecholamines, epinephrine and norepinephrine. These hormones are central to the fight-or-flight response, and they trigger the heightened awareness necessary for soldiers to survive in combat situations.

This can be the same for others who repeatedly face violent situations.

Plus, there are strong arguments for preventing any interventions that would affect the memories of those who suffer traumatic events in this way as...

Our memory preserves us and who we are and where we have been, furnishes our sense of self, and is a combination of happy moments and shameful acts.To be ourselves we cannot abandon or forget who we once were: “To alter or numb our remembrance of things past cuts to the heart of what it means to remember in a human way“.

The only ethically safe way to prevent PTSD seems to be to prevent war and all other traumatic events


Berg T. (2014). β1-Blockers Lower Norepinephrine Release by Inhibiting Presynaptic, Facilitating β1-Adrenoceptors in Normotensive and Hypertensive Rats. Frontiers in neurology, 5, 51. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2014.00051 pmcid: PMC3997042

Donovan, E. (2010). Propranolol use in the prevention and treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder in military veterans: forgetting therapy revisited. Perspectives in biology and medicine, 53(1), 61-74. DOI: 10.1353/pbm.0.0140 PMID: 20173296

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    $\begingroup$ Would taking the beta-blocker post-trauma lower the norepinephrine levels? $\endgroup$
    – Ella
    Feb 22, 2017 at 1:41
  • $\begingroup$ Is this not a "personal medical advice"?? $\endgroup$
    – Fghj
    Oct 12, 2020 at 6:04

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